Vice President Boakai Speaks on the Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Former Combatants.

Tuesday, 21st August 2007
Monrovia, Liberia - Liberiaís Vice President has expressed the hope that rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-combatants who are yet to benefit from this phase of the DDRR process will start soon so that Liberians can put behind them the stigma of the war.

He said even President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is desirous of seeing this aspect of the peace process completed so that Liberians can move ahead. Vice President Boakai was speaking Monday, when a delegation from the National Commission for Disarmament Demobilization Rehabilitation and Reintegration (NCDDRR), headed by the Commissionís Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Jarvis Witherspoon, and accompanied by two foreign experts paid a courtesy on him.

The six-member team which included Irma Specht, Socio-economic Reintegration Specialist of the Netherlands based Transition International and International Labor Organization Representative Shukuko Koyama, met with Vice President Boakai who has oversight responsibility over the NCDDRR, to chart the way forward in the remaining caseload of ex-combatants to undergo the RR program.

Vice President Boakai stressed the need to give the ex-combatants skills training so that they can help in the reconstruction of the war battered nation.

He further noted that empowering the ex-combatants would also help enhance security because trained ex-combatants would not only shy away from crime, but would refuse to be used by war-mongers.

The Liberian Vice President however expressed concerned about the disparity in the figure of 23,000 given by the NCDDRR and the 9,000 agreed upon by the international community.

He hoped measures would be put in place to cushion the effects of any eventuality, noting that the disparity in figures could prove explosive. Briefing the Vice President earlier, Madam Specht said the process of rehabilitating and reintegrating the remaining 9,000 ex-combatants will begin with registration and counseling which will commence September 1 and end October 31.

She said NCDDRR Field Officers in collaboration with key ministries will refer  beneficiaries to existing and new opportunities in training programs and job opportunities.

She emphasized the provision of job opportunities, small business set-up, apprenticeships and internship, integrated vocational training, agriculture, additional child assistance and provision of scholarships as assistance earmarked for the ex-combatants under the program.